Catalogue description Colonial Office and successors: Photographic Collection

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Details of CO 1069
Reference: CO 1069
Title: Colonial Office and successors: Photographic Collection

This series contains photographs and other images from the Colonial Office photographic collection.

NOTE: In February 2011, images from this series relating to Africa were digitised and uploaded to the photo sharing website, Flickr, as a collection entitled 'World through a Lens'. This was later extended in June 2012 to Americas and Island Territories; in September 2012 to Asia; and in January 2013 to Australasia.

Please note that the specific references used on that site are not necessarily the citable references which appear on The National Archives online catalogue.

Date: 1815-1986
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Colonial Office, 1854-1966

Commonwealth Office, 1966-1968

Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 1968-

Physical description: 942 photographs and volumes
Access conditions: Open
Immediate source of acquisition:

In 2008-2017 Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Custodial history: Public access to this collection was provided at the Colonial Office (later the Foreign and Commonwealth Office) Library until it closed in 2005.
Accumulation dates: 1869 to 2005
Administrative / biographical background:

The Colonial Office Photographic Collection is formed from a core of the old Colonial Office collection, which began in 1869 when the Colonial Secretary asked governors to arrange for the taking of photographs of 'noteworthy buildings and scenery...together with individuals of various races peculiar to the colony'. The photographs were to be sent to the Colonial Office. The practice developed and over the next 100 years a collection grew consisting of a varied and eclectic set of images from all the colonies. Some earlier images, including drawings and sketches, were added to the collection.

In 1966, the Colonial Office merged with the Commonwealth Relations Office (CRO) to become the Commonwealth Office, and in 1968 with the Foreign Office to become the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Collection was widened to include miscellaneous photographs from Commonwealth and Foreign sources - but the core of the collection remains the colonial element. Most photographs relating to India, Pakistan and Burma were separated out and now form part of the India Office collection, and are not part of this collection.

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